SALISBURY, N.C. – Boater Jason Thomas of Lexington, North Carolina, caught five bass Saturday weighing 23 pounds even to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on High Rock Lake. The tournament was the fourth event for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League North Carolina Division. Thomas earned $4,584 for his victory.
“I practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and the fish hadn’t really been biting until later in the day,” Thomas said. “We fished topwater for a couple of hours and that didn’t pan out too good, so we went a couple of places I’d had some bites on.
“We had three bites pretty quick and ended up staying on just a couple of places most of the day,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he fished the mid-lake area and Abbott’s Creek to fill his limit during the tournament. A jig and a spoon fished from 13 to 17 feet deep accounted for most of his eight keepers during the day, and most of the fish were caught from 10:30 a.m. until noon.
“It’s a big accomplishment to win against this crowd down here,” said Thomas, who also posted a BFL win on High Rock Lake in 2020. “There were a lot of great local guys in this tournament, and there’s been a lot of boat traffic and pressure on the lake, so it feels great to pull it off.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Jason Thomas, Lexington, N.C., five bass, 23-0, $4,584
2nd: Byron Brush, Rockwell, N.C., five bass, 19-6, $2,292
3rd: David Wright, Lexington, N.C., five bass, 19-0, $2,229 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th: Jackson Pleasant, Four Oaks, N.C., five bass, 17-15, $1,270
5th: Ray Griffin, Greensboro, N.C., four bass, 16-2, $917
6th: Conrad Manuel, Pilot Mountain, N.C., five bass, 15-4, $840
7th: Travis Willis, Charlotte, N.C., five bass, 15-2, $764
8th: Doug Young, Salisbury, N.C., five bass, 14-14, $688
9th: John Ritchie, Salisbury, N.C., five bass, 14-13, $611
10th: Mark Cannon, Youngsville, N.C., five bass, 14-11, $535
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Robert Drew of Gold Hill, North Carolina, caught a largemouth weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – earning him the day’s Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $675.
Will White of Wake Forest, North Carolina, won the Strike King Co-angler Division and $2,292 Saturday after catching five bass weighing 20 pounds, 9 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
1st: Will White, Wake Forest, N.C., five bass, 20-9, $2,292
2nd: Cole File, Gold Hill, N.C., five bass, 14-10, $955
2nd: James Jackson, Raeford, N.C., five bass, 14-10, $955
4th: Jonathan Strickland, Graham, N.C., four bass, 13-14, $535
5th: Wayne Smelser, Wytheville, Va., four bass, 13-6, $895
6th: Jeff Frazier, Trinity, N.C., four bass, 12-6, $420
7th: George Boyce, Youngsville, N.C., five bass, 12-5, $382
8th: Adam Edwards, Cana, Va., five bass, 12-0, $344
9th: Samuel Jones, Fuquay Varina, N.C., five bass, 11-10, $306
10th: Zach Pringle, Newton, N.C., four bass, 11-5, $267
Smelser also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $337.
After four events, Aaron Digh of Denver, North Carolina, leads the Phoenix Bass Fishing League North Carolina Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 948 points, while Trevor Wright of Chesterfield, Virginia, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 875 points.
The Top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 20-22 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on the James River in Richmond, Virginia. Boaters will compete for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The 2022 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The Top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Regional Championships where they will compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.
The Top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the Bass Pro Tour.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Revital Outdoors, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X, YETI and Yo-Zuri.
For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Bass Fishing League updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Instagramand YouTube.